Part of today’s WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament revolved around what Triple H‘s “big announcement” would be and while the tournament was another great display of the best of the UK indie scene, the “announcement” sent shock waves through the WWE (and UK) Universe: the WWE UK Brand was finally happening and NXT UK was coming sooner than expected.
— WWE (@WWE) June 18, 2018
Along with the news, it was also reported that alongside the WWE United Kingdom Championship, which is currently held by “The Bruiserweight” Pete Dunne and will act as the brand’s top male singles title, they’ll also be introducing WWE UK Women’s Championships and WWE UK Tag Team Championships. They inaugural champions for the latter two will most likely be crowned in the opening set of tapings (or soon thereafter).
NXT UK, a new UK series featuring the greatest competitors from the UK and Ireland. The UK Championship title, plus two new Championships – the UK Women’s Championship title and UK Tag Team Championship titles – will be on the line. #NXTUK pic.twitter.com/Uehw7B6U2j
— WWE UK (@WWEUK) June 18, 2018
LONDON, England and STAMFORD, Conn. – WWE today announced that tickets will be available Friday, June 29, for eight Live Events that will be taped for NXT UK, a new United Kingdom series featuring the greatest competitors from the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The U.K. Championship, plus two new championships — the U.K. Women’s Championship and U.K. Tag Team Championship — will be on the line at the following NXT UK events:
- Saturday, July 28, and Sunday, July 29, at the Corn Exchange, Cambridge
- Saturday, Aug. 25, and Sunday, Aug. 26, as part of Insomnia, the U.K.’s biggest gaming festival, at NEC Birmingham
- Saturday, Oct. 13, and Sunday, Oct. 14, at Plymouth Pavilions
- Saturday, Nov. 24, and Sunday, Nov. 25, at Liverpool Olympia
Tickets for the events in Cambridge, Plymouth and Liverpool will be available via www.livenation.co.uk, and tickets for the Birmingham events will be available via www.insomniagamingfestival.com. Further information will be available atwww.wwe.com/events.
“The U.K. has an amazing talent base and incredibly passionate fans that are deserving of their own showcase,” said Paul “Triple H” Levesque, WWE Executive Vice President, Talent, Live Events & Creative. “This is the next step in our ongoing strategy to create localized content and further develop our brand globally.”
So what will the roster look like? Compiling all the confirmations, reports and rumors, here’s a look at what NXT UK’s opening lineup could entail (we did a speculative article a while back, but with more news, we’re updating on current circumstances).
NXT UK: THE GENERAL MANAGER
The GM of NXT UK is a certified British wrestling icon. Manchester’s Johnny Saint was a pro wrestler who debuted in 1958, trained by Billy Robinson and Colin McDonald, who retired in 2011 (although he did some special events in 2015). He spent some time at the WWE Performance Center last year as a guest trainer, seemingly in preparation to head up the WWE’s UK brand – if the rumors of a UK-based Performance Center are true, except Saint to mimic fellow Brit William Regal as not just an on-screen authority figure for NXT UK, but also a talent scout and integral part of the WWE’s UK-based trainees.
NXT UK: THE MEN’S SINGLE DIVISION
The entire roster is like a “Who’s Who” of the current UK indie scene – while there are some stark omissions, like NJPW stars Zack Sabre Jr. and Will Ospreay – the bulk of them are either confirmed with the WWE UK brand or rumored. There’s still names like Mark Haskins and Jimmy Havoc that could (and should) be a part of this (as well as many, many more talented men and women), but overall, it’s a solid crop of names.
Pedigree: WWE UK Champion (current), 6x ATTACK! 24/7 Champion (current), PROGRESS World Champion, 2x OTT No Limits Champion, RevPro British Cruiserweight Champion, wXw Shotgun Champion
Chances are, if you watch WWE and/or NXT, you know exactly who “The Bruiserweight” is. He’ll be the Crown Jewel of NXT UK and the standard bearer for the brand.
Pedigree: 5x ATTACK! 24/7 Champion, PROGRESS World Champion, PROGRESS Tag Team Champion, CHIKARA Rey de Voladores (2015)
Another well known face if you follow NXT, as well as having a stint with Impact Wrestling from 2014 to 2016 as Mandrews.
Pedigree: ICW World Champion, ICW Zero-G Champion, FutureShock Wrestling (FSW) Adrenaline Champion
An athletic big man from Glasgow, Scotland’s Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW), Wolfgang is one of the UK “Big Five” (alongside Dunne, Trent Seven, Tyler Bate and Mark Andrews) who have worked NXT and UK Live Events since last year’s UK tournament.
Pedigree: PROGRESS World Champion (current), Defiant Internet Champion, RevPro Undisputed British Tag Team Champion, Fight Club PRO Champion, Lucha Forever Champion, ATTACK! 24/7 Champion
New Zealand’s “Kiwi Buzzsaw” came to the UK several years ago and has emerged as one of the top talents on the UK’s exploding indie scene. He recently signed his WWE UK deal and is looking to bring his talents to a larger audience.
Pedigree: 2x ICW World Champion, 2x Scottish Wrestling Alliance (SWA) Scottish Heavyweight Champion, Discovery Wrestling Y Division Champion (current)
Scotland’s “Iron King” recently signed his WWE UK deal and is a favourite in the tournament.
Pedigree: Defiant (WCPW) World Champion, Tidal Championship Wrestling (TCW) Champion (current), Leicester Championship Wrestling (LCW) Champion, Southside Wrestling Entertainment (SWE) Tag Team Champion (current)
Another of last year’s competitors, he returned this year before bowing out in the first round. He’s worked several NXT and 205 Live events, as well as WWE UK Live Events in the past year.
Pedigree: OTT World Champion (current), OTT No Limits Champion, Fight Factory Pro (FFP) Irish Junior Heavyweight Champion (current)
A trainee of Finn Balor’s, Devlin is Ireland’s top prospect at the moment, and a competitor in both last year and this year’s tournament.
Pedigree: PROGRESS World Champion, Defiant (WCPW) Internet Champion, SWE Champion, 2x TCW Champion, New Generation Wrestling (NGW) Champion, 2x HOPE Kings of Flight Champion (current), SWE Tag Team Champion (current)
A long time UK veteran, El Ligero made his WWE debut this year at the UK Championship tournament and also wrestled non-tournament matches for NXT at Download Festival.
Pedigree: IPW:UK World Champion, Fight Club PRO Champion, ATTACK! 24/7 Champion, Preston City Wrestling (PCW) Champion
The big man had an impressive showing in this year’s UK Championship tournament and would be a pivotal big man in NXT UK.
Pedigree: 3x ICW Zero-G Champion
One of Scotland’s best high flying daredevils, he made his WWE a few weeks back on 205 Live, where his NXT UK signing was first announced.
FLASH MORGAN WEBSTER
Pedigree: ATTACK! Champion (current), RevPro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Champion, HOPE Kings of Flight Champion, ATTACK! 24/7 Champion
Another UK star who was announced as signing after debuting on 205 Live, “The Modfather” will be a great character addition to the UK brand.
Pedigree: 3x PCW Champion, SWE Champion, ATTACK! 24/7 Champion
One of England’s premier brawlers, he recently lost his third PCW Championship prior to the start of this year’s UK tournament, his second straight entry with the WWE.
Pedigree: 2x Pro Wrestling Ulster (PWU) Champion, FFP Irish Junior Heavyweight Champion
Northern Ireland’s Tucker has been another one from last year’s tournament who has kept up working with the WWE during UK Live Events. He also returned for this year’s tournament.
Pedigree: FSW Champion (current), PCW Cruiserweight Champion, ICW Tag Team Champion
Scored a huge upset win in the opening round by defeating Joseph Conners, Smith could be a breakout star with NXT UK. According to some readers, he’s been pulled from upcoming PCW shows, leading many to speculate he’s also signed a WWE UK deal.
AXEL DIETER JR.
Pedigree: wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion, 2x wXw World Tag Team Champion
He was one of the biggest stars in Germany’s wXw and prior to signing with NXT last year, was breaking into the UK scene with his faction, Ringkampf. He’s been working NXT Live Events for the past year under his real name, Marcel Barthel, but a move back to NXT UK would give him a bigger push out of the gate.
Pedigree: PWG World Champion (current), 3x wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion, Defiant Internet Champion (current), 2x PROGRESS Atlas Champion, 3x wXw World Tag Team Champion
Speaking of Ringkampf…when Deiter Jr. left for NXT, it was repackaged with his remaining partner, WALTER, alongside Timothy Thatcher. But WALTER has recently worked for NXT at WrestleMania Axxess this WrestleMania weekend, and was recently announced as the opponent for NXT North American Champion Adam Cole at EVOLVE 107. He was rumored to have signed with the WWE back when Keith Lee was also reported, but both of them denied it. But after seeing Keith Lee in the audience at NXT Takeover: Chicago II, we all know how that denial worked out. No confirmation WALTER has signed, but a potential reunion pairing with Deiter Jr. could help with the NXT UK tag team division.
Pedigree: 2x WWE Cruiserweight Champion, NXT Champion, 2x NXT Tag Team Champion, 2x wXw World Light Heavyweight Champion, Dragon Gate Open The Brave Gate (Junior Heavyweight) Champion, PWG World Tag Team Champion
Yes, everyone knows Neville walked out of the WWE last year. But although he left the company, his contract has been frozen until he finishes his remaining dates. Neville recently moved back to the UK and Triple H has proven to be the carpenter who has rebuilt many a burned bridge over the past few years. One way to work out his remaining time on his contract is to become one of the focal points of NXT UK, which would also allow him to work with such UK indies as PROGRESS, ICW and a few others. It’s a longshot, but as Vince McMahon says, “Never say never”.
NXT UK: THE WOMEN’S DIVISION
Pedigree: wXw Women’s Champion (current), World of Stardom Champion, PROGRESS Women’s Champion, Stardom SWA Undisputed World Women’s Champion, Stardom 5* STAR Grand Prix Winner (2017), wXw Femme Fatales Winner (2017), Stardom Cinderella Winner (2017)
Arguably the best women’s wrestler in the world, Storm recently signed her WWE UK deal and without a doubt is poised to become of the faces of NXT UK (and possibly win the Mae Young Classic II in the process).
Pedigree: PROGRESS Women’s Champion (current), South Coast Wrestling (SCW) Queen of the Ring Champion (current), Pro Wrestling Chaos (PWC) Maiden of Chaos Champion, RevPro British Women’s Champion
Another of the UK’s elite women’s wrestlers and top heels, Jinny also recently signed a WWE UK deal. While she suffered an injury in today’s match at the WWE UK tournament special, she will still be a major force in NXT UK and most likely Toni Storm’s greatest rival.
Pedigree: Pro Wrestling EVE Champion (current), Bellatrix British Champion
Charlie Morgan has emerged as one of the UK’s top talents in the past year and the WWE has taken notice, as she recently signed an extended tryout deal that essentially locks her up for the NXT UK series.
Another UK talent who signed one of the extended tryout deals, she was also used at the last Raw in the UK, as a member of No Way Jose’s conga line. She will make a great addition to the NXT UK women’s division.
Scotland’s Isla Dawn has been working around the world, from the UK indies to Japan’s Stardom to the US indies, recently returning home to the UK. She wrestled tonight at the WWE UK special and will most likely show up as part of NXT UK.
Pedigree: IPW UK Women’s Champion (current), PWU Women’s Champion
The daughter of NXT trainer and UK legend Robbie Brookside has been impressing the world of late and has apparently caught the WWE’s attention.
Pedigree: 2x ICW Women’s Champion (current), Stardom SWA Undisputed World Women’s Champion (current), PCW Women’s Champion, Artist of Stardom Champion
As Piper Niven, she was one of the standouts in last year’s Mae Young Classic, and she’s only gotten better since then.
KAY LEE RAY
Pedigree: 3x SWE Queen of Southside Champion (current), 2x ICW Women’s Champion, Defiant Women’s Champion
She’s a high flyer, a brawler, and an intergender specialist who likes to take things to the extreme. Another participant in last year’s Mae Young Classic, she’s a natural for the NXT UK brand.
Pedigree: wXw Women’s Champion
Portugal’s Killer Kelly has made a name for herself in Germany’s wXw the past year, winning the inaugural wXw Women’s Championship. She competed tonight in the WWE UK special, in a triple threat with Toni Storm and Isla Dawn.
Pedigree: World of Stardom Champion, Pro Wrestling EVE Champion, Swiss Wrestling Entertainment (SWE) Ladies Champion
She was one of the most popular entrants in last year’s Mae Young Classic, but a neck injury cost her a WWE contract. She’s just recently been cleared to return to the ring, and perhaps there’s no better spot to start than in Europe with NXT UK.
NXT UK: THE TAG TEAM DIVISION
MOUSTACHE MOUNTAIN (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
Pedigree: 2x PROGRESS Tag Team Champions, RevPro Undisputed British Tag Team Champions, Fight Club PRO Tag Team Champions (current), CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas Champions
While both are accomplished singles wrestlers (Tyler Bate was the inaugural WWE UK Champion), in the UK they are renowned as the tag team Moustache Mountain. They’d give the NXT UK tag team division their top faces off the bat.
GRIZZLED YOUNG VETERANS (Zack Gibson & James Drake)
Pedigree: 2x PROGRESS Tag Team Champions (current)
With their top face tandem most likely Moustache Mountain, that opens up the doors for their top heel team and with Zack Gibson and James Drake both signed to WWE UK deals, perhaps their championship tag team Grizzled Young Veterans should look to conquer NXT UK and win themselves some more tag team gold in the UK.
There’s still lots of spots to be filled and most likely lots of signees we’re unaware of. One thing’s for sure, NXT UK is looking like it’s going to be a lot of fun.